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Howard Millen

I recently had an email request regarding one of the Millen Family’s songs, for which I had no answer. It was only upon trying to find his contact details that I learned of the death of Howard Millen on 30 July 2019, aged 90. Howard was my contact when researching the Francis Collinson manuscripts, his relatives, the Batt family from the Weald of Kent, seemingly a rich source of song.

Roland Walls - 1954 – 2019

Roland Walls, who has died from Motor Neurone Disease, has been the focus and inspiration for live folk and roots related music in and around the city of York for the last 40 years. Neither musician nor performer, he dedicated his spare time to encouraging, supporting and promoting a huge variety of music events.

Colin Ross - 1934 - 2019

On 27 May 2019, my friend and musical colleague, Colin Ross, died in Whitley Bay hospital after a brief illness. We played together for 60 years. I would like to share with you some of my memories of this great man.

Miles Wootton - 1934 - 2019

During the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Miles wrote, sang and recorded countless songs still popular in folk clubs. They mocked all kinds of follies, even those of folk itself. A fine guitarist and a wry observer of life, he blended music hall, cabaret and folk song in a distinctive way: Ewan MacColl said he “had the common touch” and Peggy Seeger calls him one of her “favourites of the ironic, sarcastic, humorous writers of iconic folk songs.” She said, “I recently sang his Hippies And Beatniks parodying Gypsy Davy: it brought the house down. Goodbye, Miles… you gave me miles of pleasure and laughter - Peggy.”

Caroline Paton 1932 – 2019

Caroline Ann Paton died on March 18th, 2019 aged 86. Her name may not be familiar to many of our readers in the UK, but Caroline and her late husband Sandy were well known to musicians from here who toured in America. In 1961, together with Sandy and business partner, Lee Haggerty, she founded Folk-Legacy Records in Huntington, Vermont, and over its lifetime, the label issued more than 120 albums from artists as diverse as Frank Proffitt, Gordon Bok, Norman Kennedy, Bill Staines, Hedy West, Ian Robb, Harry Cox and Paddy Tunney. Folk-Legacy was Caroline’s life’s work, and her passion for more than 50 years.

Anne Neilson - 1944 - 2019

Anne was introduced to traditional music in 1957 at the second meeting of the Ballads Club in Rutherglen Academy. She was one year behind Gordeanna McCulloch at the school, but their relationship with each other and their impact on others were to last for the rest of their lives. Anne worked professionally as a teacher after leaving school and if she made only a fraction of the impression that she has made on many of Scotland’s younger musicians, she must have been a great teacher. Anne worked with, taught and supported many students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland who clearly thought that she was amazing, evidenced by the many tributes paid to her on social media.

Gordeanna McCulloch - 1946 – 2019

I am writing this tribute to Gordeanna in strange circumstances and with a heavy heart, counterbalanced by the fact that Gordeanna has been, and remains, one of the most influential and inspirational figures of Scotland’s folk revival. Anne Neilson, Gordeanna’s friend and collaborator, was to have written this tribute, but within 48 hours of contacting her for an update and a promise from her that she would work on it at the weekend, we received the shock news of Anne’s sudden death at home. Anne’s tribute would have been knowledgeable and heartfelt; my writing is more general and observational. Thankfully Gordeanna’s life has been well documented elsewhere and the fruits of her work are all around for us to see and hear.

Alan Bell - 1934 - 2019

It was with great sadness that the family of Alan Bell announced that he had passed away on 25 April after a short illness. Alan was 84, a much-loved husband, brother, father, uncle and great uncle. He was best known as a performer, writer and as the founder and director of the Fylde Folk Festival which ran from 1972 until 2014. Alan was planning a one-day Fylde Folk Festival revival on Saturday 22nd June 2019 in Fleetwood, an event which was also to mark his 85th birthday. His family quickly confirmed that it was his wish that this event would go ahead and so it will now be held as a celebration of the man and his music.

Maureen Jelks - 1941 - 2018

Maureen died at her home in Kirriemuir on 20th December 2018. Blessed with a modest unassuming demeanour, crystal clear voice, unassailable optimism and an unforgettable laugh, Maureen made countless friends in her 77 years.

Bill Spence - 1940 - 2019

Bill Spence of Voorheesville, NY, passed away on 7th February 2019 at the age of 78, with his family at his side.
Known as a master of the hammered dulcimer, Bill Spence is often credited with the folk instrument’s revival in the 1970s. Bill’s musical and social achievements over very many years are simply astonishing. Not only was he a great musician, he also dedicated much of his life to encouraging and supporting other musicians. The following words quoted from Walt Michael, one of many musicians inspired by Bill to take up the hammered dulcimer, hint at some of the things which Bill achieved.